running, travel

Bacalar – in a nutshell

By popular demand, I thought I’d cover off one of my favourite spots in Mexico – the lagoon-side paradise that is Bacalar. The colonial town sits on the edge of a seven-coloured lagoon, making it the perfect location for a plethora of adventure activities, or just relaxing and taking in the views!

Where to stay

The Yak Lakehouse is an amazing hostel, I booked for 2 nights and ended up staying for 4! It’s definitely on the pricier side for a hostel (approx 18 USD for a dorm room with en suite), but it’s amazing location and delicious free, seemingly never ending breakfast more than makes up for this. They also offer cheap, rotating daily activities such as a sunset kayak tour, which is a really cheap way to have fun and meet people.

Where to Eat

For budget travellers, I would always recommend buying fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch. I found a fruit and veg shop by the main square, and generally made myself veggie tacos with lentils for some added protein, or even just spaghetti and a lentil jbolognese.

For anyone happy to spend a little bit more, there’s a fantastic restaurant called Mango y Chile, which provides both omni, vegetarian and vegan friendly options, including vegan burgers that everyone raves about!

For breakfast, brunch and coffee, I’d recommend Selva which is a local cafe, and I’ve heard very good things about it!

What to do

As I said, most hostels organise daily activities, or can help you organise an activity of your choice. The following come most highly recommended (I’ve either tried them personally, or have heard strong recommendations from traveller friends):

  • Kayaking

We rented two-person kayaks from the hostel for 100MXN per hour – so approx 6USD per hour, split between two people. It was a great day out, although it was also the day that I managed to get second degree sunburns whilst getting lost in the mangroves. A word of advice – look at a map before you go, take a ton of sun cream, and bring something to cover up with in the midday heat – you’ll need it!

  • Stand up paddle boarding

I didn’t actually do this due to the horrific sunburns I had, but The Yak works closely with a company called whatsup and offer stand up paddle boarding tours of the lagoon and sunrise and sunset. The sunrise tour involves getting up and ready by 6am for a safety briefing before heading out for approx 3 hours, whilst the sunset tour is a more leisurely hour. I’m told it’s absolutely stunning, but definitely hard work on the core and upper body. However on the plus side, no one that I knew fell in the lagoon!

  • Boat tour of the lagoon

I would say that this is worth it if you want to see the lagoon, but don’t necessarily want to be super active. At 300 MXN (approx 15 USD), it’s a little bit pricier than the kayak option, but you get a guided tour that takes you to four different spots on the lagoon, including several cenotes (fresh water sink holes) and the pirates canal, which was a channel of water used by pirates coming inland from the sea to collect a particular plant that could be used for creating vibrant pigments to dye clothes and textiles.

  • Visit the fort

Dating back to Spanish colonial times, Bacalar has been an important strategic point worth protecting, and so there’s a stunning colonial fort on the front of the lagoon, with stunning views. I didn’t personally pay to go in (100MXN, and I’m told it’s not worth it) but I did wander around the outside, where I saw iguanas and fennec foxes, and of course was still able to take in the view.

  • Chill out!

Honestly, even with all the activities out there, Bacalar still remains my number one place to chill out, disconnect and unwind. The lagoon is absolutely stunning, and I could have spent an eternity just sat by the water, reading a book. I even managed to motivate myself to get up at 6am three days in a row to do gorgeous yoga on the jetty at sunrise. As a decidedly non-morning person, this speaks volumes about the beauty of the surroundings!

So there you have it, all the wisdom I have to share on the beautiful lagoon side town of Bacalar. Let me know if it’s on your list!

Lots of love,

Pippa

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